Dan Feldman

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 20:  Kent Bazemore #24 of the Atlanta Hawks drives with the basketball past Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets during their game at the Toyota Center on December 20, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Kent Bazemore: Hawks will be Dwight Howard’s team

5 Comments

Dwight Howard is coming to Atlanta with big plans and wearing his heart on his sleeve.

He’s already won over at least one of his teammates.

Kent Bazemore, via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:

They brought in Dwight Howard, who is one of the most dominant centers of all-time and poised for a breakout year. He seems super hungry. I’ve chatted with him a few times and he seems like he’s ready to get after it. It’s a situation for him where, unlike in L.A. and unlike in Houston, this is going to be his team. We’ll work off of him. We understand that he’s been to the NBA Finals and played on some great teams. We’re looking for him to be a leader for us, and I think he can do it. Him coming back home and being comfortable here, I think that makes a world of a difference.

What about Paul Millsap? He’s still Atlanta’s best player, and his work ethic is inspiring. He built himself into an all-around star with never-expected skills after being a second-round pick.

But he can also opt out after the season, and the Hawks reportedly sought to trade him this summer.

So, with Al Horford (signed with Celtics) and Jeff Teague (traded to Pacers) out, here comes Howard to fill the leadership void. That, uh, hasn’t always gone well.

Perhaps, returning home will bring out the best in Howard. Maybe, at 30, he’s finally mature enough to truly lead a team.

But this is markedly different from Chicago, where Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo immediately deferred to the incumbent star, Jimmy Butler.

Maybe Millsap is fine with this. Maybe he doesn’t want such a prominent role and is happy to take a backseat.

Or maybe the Hawks are inviting locker-room tension.

C.J. McCollum doesn’t get ‘maximum’ contract extension’

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 23: C.J. McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers has some words with Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on April 23, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. The Blazers won the game 96-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

C.J. McCollum reportedly signed a four-year, $106 million max contract extension.

Only part of that is true.

McCollum’s extension is worth about $106 million over four years, but it’s not a “maximum” deal.

According to Basketball Insiders, McCollum’s extension will pay him:

  • 2017-18: $23,962,573
  • 2018-19: $25,759,766
  • 2019-20: $27,556,959
  • 2020-21: $29,354,152
  • Total: $106,633,450

Because the 2017-18 max salaries aren’t yet known, true “maximum” rookie-scale extensions have language to account for the uncertainty. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

A player and a Team may provide in a Rookie Scale Extension that the player’s Salary (in the first Season of the extended term) will equal “the Maximum Annual Salary applicable to such player in the first Season of the extended term”

the Team may instead provide in the Extension that the player’s Salary (in the first Season of the extended term) will equal “25% of the Salary Cap in effect during the first Season of the extended term, or, if the player meets at least one of the 5th Year 30% Max Criteria during the fourth Season of his Rookie Scale Contract, [ ]% of the Salary Cap in effect during the first Season of the extended term.” The percentage to be included where brackets are indicated in the foregoing language shall equal the percentage that is agreed upon by the Team and player, which percentage shall in no event be less than twenty-five percent (25%) or greater than thirty percent (30%).

Apparently, McCollum’s contract doesn’t contain either set of terms. It has just actual numbers.

His $23,962,573 salary in 2017-18 is a decent guess at the max that season based on the latest $102 million cap projection. However:

1. The league’s cap projections tend to be conservative. Even if the system remains the same, the cap – and max salaries, which are also determined by revenue – could land much higher.

2. The system might not remain the same. Either the players or owners can opt out of the CBA before next summer.

Given Michele Roberts’ saber rattling on max contracts and the union’s executive board being stacked with superstars, the max formula could lead to a much bigger number. Players could also push for a higher percentage of revenue, lifting all salaries higher.

McCollum probably wouldn’t benefit. He’s locked into his scheduled salary barring a new rule that raises his.

However, it could go the other way. Against the odds, max salaries could land lower than expected.

McCollum probably wouldn’t be protected. In the current system, if a slated salary in the first year of an extension is above the max, the salary is amended down to the max. That setup probably won’t change.

Essentially, the Trail Blazers are protecting themselves as we enter an uncertain new era. In all likelihood, McCollum’s salary will be no more than $23,962,573. If the max is higher, it’ll be $23,962,573. If the max is lower, it’ll be the max.

Expect other teams negotiating extensions to take a similar course. The Warriors did something similar with Klay Thompson, and this tack is even more important now.

Report: Magic to sign Damjan Rudez

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7: Damjan Rudez #10 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a foul by Nick Collison #4 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of the preseason game on October 7, 2015 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Thunder defeated Timberwolves 122-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
1 Comment

The Magic have a few stretch fours – or at least players who could fit the rough outline of a stretch four:

Now, Orlando is adding a stretch four who’s a far-superior shooter:

Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.net:

Free agent Croatian forward Damjan Rudez has a deal for a next season contract with the Orlando Magic. According to Eurohoops sources the two sides agreed to terms and the official announcement is expected soon.

Rudez would give the Magic 14 players – still one shy of the regular-season limit. So, he could make the regular-season roster, though Orlando might not stop here. Rudez’s salary is likely only partially guaranteed.

He’s an impressive outside shooter, hitting 39% of his 3-pointers in two seasons with the Pacers and Timberwolves. But he’s a hilariously bad rebounder for a 6-foot-10 player, and his other skills are unremarkably inadequate.

The Magic could try playing him more at small forward to compensate for his lack of strength, but his lack of speed would become a larger issue. Rudez’s minus athleticism will hold him back, especially considering he’s already 30.

Still, 3-point shooting is such a coveted skill in big men. It makes a small gamble on Rudez reasonable.

DeMarcus Cousins causes existential crisis with response to question (video)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 04:  DeMarcus Cousins of the United States speaks with the media during a press conference at the Main Press Centre ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 4, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
6 Comments

This is why I thought DeMarcus Cousins was wrong to call All-NBA voting a “popularity contest.”

How could the voting media not have at least some affection for him?

Jai Bednall  of news.com.au:

  • Reporter: “If you had one question to ask yourself and you were standing down here, what would you ask?”
  • Cousins: “I would ask myself, what would that one question be?”

Mind. Blown.

76ers hire new assistant coach: Former 76ers head Jim O’Brien

3 Comments

How do the 76ers recreate the magic of their last winning 82-game season?

Hiring the coach who oversaw it.

Philadelphia is bringing back Jim O’Brien, who guided the 76ers to a 43-39 record in 2004-05, his lone season with them.

76ers release:

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that the team has named Jim O’Brien and Kevin Young as Assistant Coaches, John Bryant and Alvin Williams as Player Development Coaches, John Townsend as Shooting Coach, Chris Babcock as Assistant Director of Player Development and Dr. Lance Pearson as Director of Applied Analytics.

In a related move, Eugene Burroughs, who spent the last two seasons as the Sixers’ shooting coach, has been promoted to Head Coach of the Delaware 87ers, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Sixers.

“We are excited to maintain a continuity of culture within the staff by promoting five very talented coaches from within our organization,” said Sixers Head Coach Brett Brown. “This commitment to growth and development is the foundation upon which we were also able to recruit three coaches with decades of expertise who will help move our program forward and fit seamlessly into our system.”

It’s a little weird for O’Brien to return to the 76ers in a lesser role, but at least his Philadelphia tenure doesn’t define him. O’Brien surrounded his stint with the 76ers by coaching the Celtics and Pacers. He’s also a Philadelphia native, which makes this a more comfortable fit.

O’Brien will replace Mike D’Antoni, who left for the Rockets, as Brown’s assistant with NBA assistant.